The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. -Acts 10:45 NIV
In New Testament, among those first believers in the early church, the thought of Gentiles (non-Jewish people) having access to God was unthinkable. Yet, our Lord had a different idea. His disciples failed to realize that when He went into Samaria to share the good news with a group of people considered almost as bad. It would take some convincing for them to realize that God loved all people, not just the Hebrews.
The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.” -Acts 11:1-3 NIV
How many times do we as believers look at each other, making judgments as to who is the better Christian? Who attends Church more frequently and gives the most of their finances? Who does the most service for the kingdom? Who never speaks a word of profanity? Who has never been divorced or perhaps suffered from a substance abuse problem? These are some of the many things we can use as points when comparing ourselves to our brothers and sisters.
Faith in Christ Jesus is what makes each of you equal with each other, whether you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a man or a woman. So if you belong to Christ, you are now part of Abraham’s family, and you will be given what God has promised. -Galatians 3:28-29 CEV
Father, great is Your majesty and glory. Also great is your love for us. May we remember Your ever-patient grace when we start to think we are better Christians, somehow more worthy of Your love than others. May we meet at the foot of the Cross in humble adoration and gratitude for Your mercy and bountiful blessings.
Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. -Psalms 25:4-5 NIV
The psalmist made quite a statement when he wrote “my hope is in you day long.” Sometimes I find waiting and hoping even a few minutes for something I really want to happen can seem like forever.
I believe God always hears and answers prayer. It’s the “how and when” that I struggle with. The answer to my requests may be yes, a resounding no, or wait and see. But I’m sure that my hope is valid — no matter what the outcome.
When Nicodemus came to Jesus Jesus one night to ask Him questions, he acknowledged that He was a teacher sent from God and cited the miracles He performed as evidence. What was the reply that Jesus gave him? Was it, “you’re wise to see that I am sent from God because of the works that I do?” No. It was: Jesus answered, “I am telling you the truth: no one can see the Kingdom of God without being born again.” -John 3:3 GNT
The Bible makes it clear that we are dead in our trespasses and sins until such time that the Holy Spirit opens are eyes to see the majesty, Glory and loving grace of God.
In the past you were dead because you sinned and fought against God. You followed the ways of this world and obeyed the devil. He rules the world, and his spirit has power over everyone who doesn’t obey God. Once we were also ruled by the selfish desires of our bodies and minds. We had made God angry, and we were going to be punished like everyone else. -Ephesians 2:1-3 CEV
The life we receive from our human parents is already one that is fallen. You might well say that we are born dead. We are conceived into this fallen race by a fallen people and are by nature children of the “god of this world” (Satan) — unless and until we are redeemed by God through the sacrifical work of His Son on the cross. For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. -John 8:44 NLT
For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. -1 Corinthians 2:2 NKJV
So many doctrines and opinions are used to separate brothers and sisters in Christ. Not only is the work of advancing the kingdom left undone, but Satan’s work is often accomplished in the process. How much more simple to preach the message of salvation given to us by our LORD through His death and resurrection. Keep it simple. Share the gospel. It must begin with that before there is any point of discussing other doctrine (important though it may be).
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. -John 15:7 NASB1995
A favorite of the “word of faith crowd,” but let’s take a closer look at what the Bible is actually teaching here. The key is in the first words: “if you abide in Me.” If we abide in Him, our heart’s desire should be harmonious with His. I somehow doubt that our LORD cares whether we acquire private jets, big homes, expensive jewelry, etc. In fact, I think He might well tell us to sell it all and follow Him.
Where have I heard that before? Oh yes, the words of Jesus Himself: Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” –Matthew 19:21 NASB1995
Recently on Facebook, members of one the groups I’m belong to have been talking about the NLT Chronological Life Application Study Bible. As a result, I pulled my copy off the shelf and began rediscovering this wonderful Bible that is so rich in resources. In case you haven’t guessed, I wholeheartedly recommend the Life Application Study Bible — in any of the available translations.
“It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’” “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” –Genesis 3:3-5 NLT
Today I read about Satan’s plan against us. This plan involves sewing doubt (makes you question His word), discouragement (making you look at your problems instead of God), diversion (makes the wrong things seem attractive so you want them more than the right things), defeat (if you feel like a failure, you won’t even try) and delay (put off doing things so they never get done). You may find this segment in the third chapter of Genesis in the Life Application Study Bible — at least the second and third editions.
Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?” “The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.” –Genesis 3:13 NLT
Satan has a way of making the wrong thing seem right. Eve was so taken in by what she thought she wanted that, once doubt about God’s words to her crept in, she robbed herself of the life God had in mind for her and the whole human race. Remember what Jesus said about Satan:
For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. –John 8:44 NLT
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. John 14:1 ESV
These are troubling times, of that there is no doubt. But, couldn’t the same be said of any time in which people have lived? Were not the times that the Apostle Paul lived under a brutal, sadistic dictator troubling? What of the evil slaughter of millions by Adolf Hitler? History is replete with troubling times. Now, enter a new villain to the world stage.
For many of us, the tyrant that threatens life as we know it comes not in the from of a person or group of people, but a tiny virus that has spread across the world. This has caused death and sickness in many forms from the soul outward. People rush to get vaccines (that are not as effective as we had hoped) in an effort to feel safe, only to be left with the same restrictions and fears they had before.
This is not to say that the vaccines don’t help by lessening symptoms and shortening the time it takes to recover. I will take that on face value until proven otherwise. (As a matter of full disclosure, I am fully vaccinated myself on the advice of my doctor). I will not inject politics into this, either. But I would remind people that the real sense of peace and security comes from Christ and not a laboratory.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 4:7 ESV
We very often take things for granted when they are in abundant supply. Sometimes it takes a sudden, drastic change of circumstances to see the value of what we might think we are entitled to.
While such changes can be often painful and frightening, for a child of God they can be beneficial if they cause in us a renewed sense of dependence on our Creator. The Bible is replete with verses to support this position. Take, for instance, Psalm 119:71: My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees. (Psalms 119:71 NLT)
My personal and recent experience with this began on December 17 when I found myself on the way to a large hospital from a smaller one in an attempt to save my life from a serious heart attack. How long had doctors warned me about unmanaged diabetes and the damage it would (not could) do to my heart? Answer: a long time. A cardiac catheterization with placement of two stents, combined with several days in the ICU and main hospital, gave me some time to reflect on [and come to terms with] my need for sincere gratitude to my Sovereign Creator. He saved me when many people would have died from something as severe as I suffered. I know He has His reasons. May I do my part to carry out His will for me as I move forward from here.
Where do I go from here? Where He leads. My outcome is uncertain, but only from my perspective and strictly physically speaking
The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. (Psalms 34:19 NLT) On face value, one can say that this speaks of certainty. What is uncertain is when and in what manner the Lord chooses to rescue us. Sometimes, my plans are not His! The goal is for me to align my will with His.
Hoping you all have a happy, healthy and prosperous new year in service to the LORD!
I wrote this on the last day of my sojourn in Hartford Hospital (Christmas Eve):
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” – Luke 2:14 ESV
Jesus, our Prince of peace, offers a peace unparalleled in human history -not something temporary or contingent on special conditions that are constantly changing or impossible to meet.
Recovering from a serious heart attack that almost cost me my life has been an obviously stressful thing. A week in the hospital can give anybody cause to reflect on their life, thereby doing the “would have, could have” routine and coming up short.
Being here in the cardiac care unit, hoping to be released today on Christmas Eve has opened my eyes to the precious nature of Christmas more than ever.